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Linux-Kongress 2002
9th International Linux System Technology Conference
September 4-6, 2002 in Cologne, Germany

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See the list of all papers
Author Marcus Mei▀ner
Title WINE - The Windows Emulator
Postscript: (61509 Bytes)

WINE is one of the older software projects in the Linux world. Started in 1993 it is still going strong and, unfortunately, still not finished.

Started as a Windows 3.1 Emulation at that time it evolved over time into a full blown replacement of a 16 and 32 bit windows system environment, be it Windows 95, 98, NT 3.51, NT 4, 2000, ME, or even XP.

WINE itself is not a full emulator like the name suggests, but an emulation and reimplementation of the Windows core libraries (DLLs). It also provides a runtime environment, with registry, filesystem emulation and .INI file handling.

Standard Windows binaries and libraries are loaded into the UNIX address space, relocations and imports applied and the machine code directly executed.

While the latter does makes windows applications run at the same speed as under Windows, the emulation of the underlying libraries makes for some loss of speed.

The graphics driver do not directly interface with the graphicscard but are implemented on top of the X11 libraries. While this might lead to a small reduction in speed it allows full integration into the normal UNIX desktop, be it KDE or GNOME.

On the filesystem side, you do not need a Windows partition nor a harddisk image, WINE operates using the UNIX filesystem API, with the drives being specified by a configfile.

While WINE can use Windows native DLLs, the goal of the developers is to provide a MicroSoft free emulation by reimplementing all the required DLLs.

In the last few years companies have used WINE to port applications and are even basing their whole business on WINE. This lead to acceleration but also to rather long license flamewars and several license changes over the time.

The talk will give an introduction (both technical and historical) into the WINE project and also give a brief view into the license debate.

About the Author

Marcus Meissner has started working with Linux in 1992, and begun involving himself with the WINE project in 1994. He studied computer science at the university of Erlangen and finished it with diploma in 1997. After doing his civil duty he worked for Caldera Systems in Erlangen as a senior developer between 1999 and 2002 and is now working for the SuSE Linux AG in Nuernberg.

In his spare time he still works too much with computers, but also likes doing inline skating and long walks across his hometown.

Comments or Questions? Mail to Last change: 2005-09-17